The Truth About Murder Mountain

‘Murder Mountain’ is the latest cannabis related movie doing the rounds on Netflix.

Massively popular, I too binge watched it and loved it. It is an apparent bird’s-eye-view of life on Humboldt County cannabis farms, though some might say it is a massively sensationalised and misleading disservice to the US cannabis industry and, particularly, Humboldt. It is also about a murder. On a mountain.

The series covers the effects of cannabis legalization in Humboldt, where it has been grown locally for many years. In 2018, a mass of unlicensed plants was seized by local authorities, with strict regulations making it difficult for some growers to continue to operate in a legal market.

Behind the backdrop of some rather luscious looking cannabis plants, Humboldt is being touted as the missing person capital of America. But is it?

If you look deeper into the startling figures of missing people, you do find that Humboldt, as well as having California’s highest per-capita missing persons rate, also has the state’s highest rate of person’s found after being missing.

And why might this be? Do people announce they are going to work on cannabis farms? Is it something you’d really want to tell your parents?

So, these rather troubling figures are not as dark as they may first appear. There is a clear reason why people might disappear and reappear in or around Humboldt County. But never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

This is not to say for a second that the death of Garret Rodriguez and subsequent lack of police investigation in the face of mounting evidence – which is covered in detail by the program – is not enormously concerning. The film has certainly shone much-needed light on a disturbing case.

The series has created so much of a buzz that the Humboldt County Sherrif has actually taken to Facebook to defend Humboldt and criticize the program, where he made the following statement:

“To those of you who have seen this series, please understand that you heard one side of a highly sensationalized story. The Humboldt County’s Sheriff’s Office did not provide this film crew with any pertinent facts or evidence regarding this case because it is an open investigation. As a matter of standard operating procedure, we will not jeopardize the prosecution of a case because of the media pressure or desire to run a story. By relying on unofficial and biased sources, the producers of this series presented information that was not credible nor could be used in a court of law.”

Let’s hope this means that Garret’s killer may actually be arrested at some point in the future.

To his credit, the Sheriff answers questions where he can and does a pretty good job of calming people down as some are clearly getting flustered with all this talk of murder and mountains. He was even helpful enough to post local murder investigation statistics, which I have to say are far from concerning.

Out of our dedication to transparency, we have compiled the following statistics for all homicides occurring between…

Posted by Humboldt County Sheriff's Office on Friday, 4 January 2019

The picture presented by the docu-series is clearly a lot more sinister than day to day reality in Humboldt. So don’t let it put you off a visit.

If you want to really scare yourself, I respectfully suggest you go look up David Paulides and the Missing 411 stories. These are highly alarming statistics about people who vanish without a trace in America’s National Parks, collated by an ex-police officer. Now that’s some scary stuff.

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